REPRESENTATIVES from 18 trade unions addressed those gathered for Labour Day's 80th celebration before the start of the march to Fyzabad this morning.
In keeping with the change to its format, this year trade unionist were allotted three minutes to speak to the crowd at Avocat Junction.
Some took the time to express their solidarity with the trade union movement, others spoke of their struggles for better working conditions and wages for workers with some calling for changes in the laws of the country.
President of Banking, Insurance and General Worker Union (BIGWU) Vincent Cabrera raise issue over music trucks not being allowed during the march.
“On the 80th anniversary we can't have music, something wrong with that.”
He blamed police officers “in khaki in air condition offices.”
A senior police officer however told the Express that meetings were held to discuss the march and it was agreed by trade union members that music trucks would not be used along the route. He also said licences and permits were required by law for the music trucks to be used.
The march was led by members of the music band from the Petrotrin Cadet Corps. The Oilfield Worker's Trade Union walked alongside a rhythm section. Representatives from other trade unions sang and some chanted as they headed toward Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad.
While days leading up to the march it was stated in a press that the speeches “will begin promptly at 9 a.m.” the programme start at 10.20 a.m. The Express was told that some of the labour leaders including President General of the OWTU Ancel Roget were stopped by the police as they drove toward the starting point. This occurred after the wreath laying ceremony for trade union leader Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler. They were however eventually allowed access into the area.
Public Services Association President Watson Duke was on the podium but opted not to speak. He also did not field questions from the media. General secretary of the PSA Gorgonia Auguste said he asked her to address to the gathering. She told the crowd that it was “an honour to be here and more so it's an honour to stand up among these great leaders. We know that together we shall be a force to reckon with.”
In the past Duke and some of the PSA members stayed away from the march. In 2015 PSA representatives demanded that he speak on the platform but Duke was bodily removed by police officers after he moved into the area.
A passionate Michael Prentice of the Amalgamated Workers Union during his three minutes told the crowd, “We're not only fighting forces outside, we fighting forces inside … Butler, Rienzi turning in their graves to day to see what we passing for trade union leaders.”
Addresses were expected by the leadership of the collaborating three trade unions Joint Trade Union Movement, National Trade Union Centre (Natuc) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organizations (Fitun). A feature address was also expected from the President of JTUM & President General of the OWTU, Ancel Roget.